Monday, January 12, 2009

Cooking The Books

Or at least one book, my journal. It looks a wee bit different on the outside now because I learned how to do a Coptic headband:

The instructions are in Suzanne Tourtillott’s “Making & Keeping Creative Journals” (Lark, 2002, still in print) and it seems to be the only reference available. This book has some good information on the different Coptic stitches to join book sections together: one needle (the way I did it), two needles and 4 needle versions. The illustrations and written instructions are a little dicey, occasionally a bit vague or confusing, but believe me there aren’t many other better options in print to learn the techniques. Except maybe the more “professional” books by Keith Smith which I don’t have (though I think the public library does). I should borrow a copy sometime.

You might ask why I used Coptic binding anyway. For starters, I love the look of the exposed binding stitches! It’s fairly easy to accomplish without specialized tools and equipment and has a textile-y quality that appeals to me. Plus the pages can be flexed far open without damaging the spine and they will stay open fairly well, even with heavy paper like I used in my journal. Now why did I add a headband on the top and bottom of my finished book? Besides the fact that it looks even more cool, it strengthens the ends and holds them together a bit better. I can’t say I did the world’s best stitching job though so don’t pay any attention to the unevenness. With the dark days we’ve been having and black waxed linen thread, it was really hard to see where my needle had to go next even with my magnifier light on the subject. So it’s not perfect – much like the rest of the book itself.

I’ve also been playing with some of the inside pages. I got a few more art supplies when we went out on Saturday (in the pouring rain wearing full-length rain gear and carrying umbrellas). So I was able to spray workable fixative on my “frottage” experiments, aka rubbings made with soft pencil on surfaces all over my house:

You sometimes can’t even imagine how a texture is going to turn out. The fridge and the wall in my stairway were particularly interesting. Then there’s the experimenting with watercolour paint and covering the wet paint with plastic wrap (left) and salt crystals (right):

These weren’t totally successful (because some of the paint dried too soon) but informative. I also tested out all the colours I have so far of the fluid acrylics:

Notice I left a space or two for future purchases. I tried to create an idea of what the colours look like as a shaded wash. It was harder to do than I thought! The Quinacridone/Nickel Azo Gold (top row, right) is a particularly interesting colour. When it’s thick it looks rusty orange like the Transparent Red Iron Oxide (second row, centre) but when washed down it looks like the Yellow Ochre (top row, centre) but more luminous. Also the Quinacridone Burnt Orange (second row, left) is much more red than you might suspect from its name. Which is why it’s a bit out of sequence. Payne’s Gray (fourth row, right) is more blue than I would have expected. The metallics (bottom row) still have a bit of sparkle even when washed out, but I don’t think you can see it in the photo. That was a fun exercise. How come I want even more jars of this stuff now? At least two more to fill in the gaps on the page, right?

Other art supplies I got included more colours of the PITT brush pens, protective spray for inkjet prints, soft gel medium and absorbent ground. The latter is useful to turn a surface into one that will allow watercolour painting. It was originally designed to help a watercolourist who wanted to paint on gessoed canvas. The watercolours only slide off the acrylic gesso ground but the absorbent ground works more like paper. That’s the theory anyway but I haven’t tried it yet. More playtime coming up.

So what’s the point of all this arty stuff? No point at all! I’m just experimenting with some of my toys. Anyway, while playing with some other toys (those pointy sticks) – I’ve got one finger on each of the gloves done and promptly ran out of enough yarn to do even one more finger. However I did locate some more yarn that I dyed myself that might do ok for the rest of the fingers. There will be more Frankensteining going on! Many joins will ensue. Also I’m up to the heel flaps on my bro-in-law’s socks. They’re coming along just fine so I work on them when I get frustrated with the gloves. Which seems to be happening often or I’d be done with them by now.

Speaking of cooking – well it was in the title, remember? While we were out wading around in the rain we got some local sidestripe shrimp at the Granville Island Market. They went down very well with garlic butter and I saved the cooking broth for today’s seafood soup. Unfortunately I didn’t save any shrimp because they were much too good! Slurp. I’ll have to put some barbequed salmon in the soup instead. And some twice-smoked bacon, also from the Market. I’m going out right now to see if my leeks are still edible since I can finally see where they are in the snow. Doncha wish you were having supper with us tonight?

No comments: